BELLO OLAYEMI S. (DLAW),
A POLITICAL ANALYST& DIPLOMAT
For several scores of years, Nigeria has earned an appellation for herself as a showcase of Africa’s democracy. Paradoxically, every journey towards such democratic experiment had been laden with electoral violence even since the colonial days. With the rebirth of African liberalism in the 1990s, electoral violence returned in a more frightening dimension. Governance comprises all the processes of governing, whether undertaken by the government of a state, by a market or by a social system (family, tribe, formal or informal organization, a territory or across territories) and whether through the laws, norms, power or language of an organized society. However, there are varieties of methods in governance, which can be regarded as system of government. They include; Aristocracy, Plutocracy, Gerontocracy, Mobocracy, Theocracy, Kakistocracy, Ochlocracy, Kleptocracy, Autocracy, Timocracy, Meritocracy, Democracy, Diarchy, Anarchy, Monarchy, Oligarchy, Feudalism, Fascism, Nazism, Authoritarianism, Totalitarianism, etc.
Among the above-mentioned forms of government, emphasis shall be on democracy, as one of its major characteristics is election. The current global emphasis on democratization has made election an inevitable process of leadership choice and succession, hence the need for routing elections globally. Election is the formal process of selecting a person for public office or of accepting or rejecting a political position. This is usually done in any democratic environment where people can be elected to various positions for a certain period of time. However, this is often accompanied with violence depending on the environment. Electoral violence, which constitutes a major challenge to stability in Africa and Nigeria in particular, is a combination of pre and post-election violence that can lead to chaos and instability in the polity. This particular problem has become a recurring decimal in Nigeria in which Ilorin, Kwara state is not an exemption. Ilorin metropolis that used to be one of the most peaceful cities in Nigeria later became a battle ground for political actors fighting for the soul of the state, which eventually shattered the peace.
Factors Influencing Incidence Of Electoral Violence In Ilorin Metropolis Include The Following;
- Lack of Political Education and Orientation: The fact that a large number of the Ilorin people, most especially the youth lack political education and orientation. This was evident in the administration of Muhammad Lawal, during his clash with Dr. Olushola Saraki, as they both made use of the Ilorin youths for their own personal interests. The use of the youth as instrument of political violence is rooted in Nigeria’s political history. The destructive capability of the youth was displayed in the orgy of violence that emanated before, during and after the conduct of the 2003 Gubernatorial election in Ilorin, Kwara State. These political thugs were the uneducated youths, who as well lack political orientation. In the aftermath of the death Governor Lawal and the weakening of opposition fronts in Ilorin politics the incidence of youth violence has somewhat abated.
- Rigging of Election: Since 1999, election rigging has become a common phenomenon in every nook and cranny of Nigeria, and Ilorin is not excluded in the use of the youth as instrument of election rigging. Election rigging mostly occur in a political system when there is a strong political opponent, and this was the case in Ilorin in 2003 during the power tustle between Governor Lawal (A.N.P.P) and Dr. OlusholaSaraki (P.D.P). Even though Saraki, under the umbrella of (P.D.P) was announced as the winner in the gubernatorial election, Governor Lawal and his supporters (A.N.P.P) accused the People’s Democratic Party of gerrymandering, stealing of ballot boxes, manipulation of election results etc.
- Unnecessary Political Ambition: Unlike before, Kwarans have become highly political. In fact, the demand to participate in politics keeps on increasing in geometrical progression while the absorbing capacity of these participants increases in arithmetic progression. This leads to a very high competition among the participants who are prone to take the most extreme measure in order to win and maintain political power.
- Ethnic Politics: This has become highly pronounced in Ilorin politics. During the period of Muhammad AlabiLawal, most of the Yoruba people in Ilorin supported Lawal, while the Fulanis and others were in support of Olushola Saraki. The violent confrontations between the two opposing political camps in the state commenced with the alleged march on Ilorin by the OPC from Southwest Nigeria. The group’s mission was reported to be the installing of a Yoruba Oba in Ilorin to rival the Emir of the Ilorin, the paramount traditional ruler of Ilorin, and the chairman of the state council of Chiefs (Aremu, 2001; Sambo, 2005). Although the group plan was foiled by the Nigerian Police, nonetheless it irked Ilorin indigenes who interpreted it as an affront to the traditional symbol of authority of the city. Not only did the supporters of Dr. Saraki see the incident as a direct assault masterminded by the governor to ridicule the Emir.
Between October 2000 and the eve of the 2003 general elections, reign of terror and violence was visited on Ilorin and the state, at large, by the army of terror oiled by the political machineries of the two clashing politicians. The first open intraparty confrontation was recorded on March 14, 2001, when a section of the ruling ANPP supporters went on a demonstration, demanding the removal of the, then, ANPP state chairman, Prof. Albert Ogunsola, a staunch Saraki loyalist. The demonstration was believed to have been orchestrated by Governor Lawal. By June, the party had been totally factionalized and violent showdowns between party thugs and miscreants became the order of the day in Ilorin and its environs.
- Unemployment: Unemployment also contributes immensely to electoral violence. Many of the Ilorin people who are jobless enter politics with the intents and purposes of causing confusion, by making use of the youth to destabilize the Ilorin metropolis.
- Monetization of Politics: In time past, political offices did not attract money as it is today. The government had made politics more financially attractive that nobody wants to engage in any other profession than politics. Thus, as it is now, the 109 senators receive N4,066,212,458.00. The 360 members of House of Representatives receive N11,496,523,333.00. The 36 State Houses of Assembly receive N17,129,465,597.00 while about 600 Councilors receive N74,766,456,000.00 per annum. Seeing these gargantuan benefits Nigerians determine to enter into politics, of which Ilorin people are not exempted and win at all cost. Other factors include; Ethnic and religious agitation, reckless manipulation of the electoral process, imposition of unpopular candidates, disrespect for the constitution, injustice, downward trend in the economy, poverty, lack of patriotism, intolerance and cultism.